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article imagePhoto Essay: Vineyards and Wineries in the Arkansas River Valley Special

By Kay Mathews     Sep 6, 2011 in Travel
Altus - Wineries from pioneers of America's wine industry, the largest stand of Chardonnay grapes outside California, and extraordinarily beautiful vineyards can be found in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in the town of Altus.
Back in 1880, according to the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism, "two pioneers of the American wine industry" settled in the Arkansas River Valley. The area so reminded Jacob Post and Johann Wiederkehr "of the fine wine-making regions of Germany and Switzerland that they each established vineyards."
The Arkansas River Valley is "situated between the Ouachita and Ozark Mountain Ranges" and the town of Altus (pop. 834) is home to Mount Bethel Winery (from the lineage of Jacob Post), Post Familie Vineyards, Wiederkehr Wine Cellars, and the newest addition, Chateau Aux Arc (pronounced "ozark").
It may surprise some to learn that "Arkansas is the oldest and largest grape juice and wine producing state in the southern United States."
Post Familie Vineyards
This fifth-generation family operated vineyard and winery has "some great wines made from that most famous Southern grape, the muscadine, as well as some traditional wines."
Post Vineyards sign.  Altus  Arkansas
Post Vineyards sign. Altus, Arkansas
A section of the Post Vineyards with the Ozark mountains in the background.  Altus  Ark.
A section of the Post Vineyards with the Ozark mountains in the background. Altus, Ark.
Grapes on the vine  view from underneath  at Post Vineyards.  Altus  Arkansas
Grapes on the vine, view from underneath, at Post Vineyards. Altus, Arkansas
Muscadine grapes at the Post Vineyards.  Altus  Ark.
Muscadine grapes at the Post Vineyards. Altus, Ark.
Wiederkehr Wine Cellars
Wiederkehr, and its neighbor the Post Familie Vineyard, are "the top producing wineries in the United States." Wiederkehr is one of the wineries that bottles Cynthiana grapes, which were "specially developed by botanists at the University in Little Rock." At Wiederkehr, visitors will find a large shop that offers tastings. There is also a German-themed restaurant on site.
Wiederkehr Wine Cellars welcome sign.  Altus  Ark.
Wiederkehr Wine Cellars welcome sign. Altus, Ark.
Clerk at Wiederkehr Wine Cellars.  Altus  Ark.
Clerk at Wiederkehr Wine Cellars. Altus, Ark.
Wine tasting at Wiederkehr Wine Cellars.  Altus  Ark.
Wine tasting at Wiederkehr Wine Cellars. Altus, Ark.
Chateau Aux Arc
There is a 4,800-square-foot tasting room at Chateau Aux Arc and "the winery currently includes the largest stand of Chardonnay grapes outside of California."
Chateau Aux Arc welcome sign and vineyards.  Altus  Ark.
Chateau Aux Arc welcome sign and vineyards. Altus, Ark.
Inside Chateau Aux Arc tasting room.  Altus  Ark.
Inside Chateau Aux Arc tasting room. Altus, Ark.
Inside Chateau Aux Arc tasting room.  Altus  Ark.
Inside Chateau Aux Arc tasting room. Altus, Ark.
Visitors may want to take advantage of some upcoming festivals as an excuse to visit and taste Arkansas wine country wines. At Chateau Aux Arc "Wineaux Fest 2011" will be held Sept. 24 beginning at 1:00pm. Wiederkehr Wine Cellars will host the 48th Annual Wiederkehr Village Weinfest on Oct. 8.
More about Wine, Winery, altus, Arkansas, Post Winery
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